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Ways to Meditate
A Collection of Meditations and Prayers from 2012
Susan Helene Kramer Ė Shuchi
Virtue pure we donít forget
Itís what we brought and what we get
Remembering every new-born day
Your love and light shine bright our way
~ Shuchi
Contents

Part I.

1. How to Use Prayer Beads in Meditation

2. Building an Outdoor Meditation Altar

3. Beginning Meditation on Kindness

4. Seeing In-depth in the Stillness of Meditation

5. Holy Spirit in Meditation

6. Bedtime Meditation

7. Beginning Walking Meditation on the Breath

8. Heal Relationships with Meditation

9. How to Choose a Meditation Method

10. Meditation for Inner Peace

11. Is It Better to Meditate at Dawn or Dusk?

12. Kids Can Walk Stress Away

Part II.

13. Meditation on Giving and Receiving

14. Diving Deeply Into Meditation

15. Sitting Meditation for College Age Students

16. Change of Season Meditation

17. All Saints Day Meditation on Harmony

18. Walking Meditation for College Age Students

19. Improve Your Abilities through Concentration

 

20. Thanksgiving Day Meditation on the Harvest

21. Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila - Book Review

22. Advent Preparations and Prayer

23. Proof of Heaven - Book Review

24. One Minute Bedtime Meditation

Part III.

25. Christmas Joy Prayer and Meditation

26. Prayer and Meditation in Honor of Ravi Shankar

27. New Yearís Day - Establish a Meditation Practice

28. Understanding Unconditional Love Meditation

29. Learn About Being Kind Meditation

30. Meditating in the Passenger Seat While Traveling

31. Valentine's Day Reflection and Meditation

32. Lent Meditation

33. Gentle Meditation Practice

34. Pope Benedict XVI - Infancy Narratives of Jesus - Book Review

35. St. Patrick's Day Devotion and Meditation

36. Grief Relief Prayer and Meditation

37. Easter Sunrise Prayer and Meditation

38. A Meditation to Calm Upset

 

 

Part I.

1.   How to Use Prayer Beads in Meditation


A string of beads, rosaries, or malas help us concentrate on mantras or prayers during meditation. A mala, sometimes worn around the neck, has 108 beads, and the one for the wrist is 27 beads. Catholic rosaries have 5 sets of ten beads plus the in between beads and introductory beads and crucifix or cross.

No matter what religion you are practicing, your beads help you concentrate on the prayers, which in turn raise your thoughts and vibration into a more spiritual or esoteric space. In the stillness of prayer and mantra repetition the body quiets, the mind eventually contemplates on virtue or positive thoughts.
photo credit Stan Schaap; how to hold mala
In the photo I am holding a standard 108 bead mala in the way it is used during meditation practice. I move forward on the beads with one full mantra per bead.

If thoughts seem to be going downhill, bringing yourself back to concentrating on your beads provides the short break to begin positive and uplifting contemplation once more.

Early experience

When I was about 9 years old I began a self-motivated regime of saying a complete rosary sequence in bed at night before falling asleep. I kept my rosary under my pillow during the day. This became a lifetime habit.

What this shows me is that it is probably never too early to introduce children to spiritual praying that they can carry out on their own as I did. To the best of my memory it was my grandmother who introduced me to the idea of keeping my prayer beads under my pillow.

As a young mother, rocking a child on the screened porch each day, I would say prayers on my rosary to gather together peace into my life in the midst of the small tribe of my children running around. After a child would fall asleep in my lap Iíd spend time in quiet contemplation and meditation.

Now, many years later I take as many opportunities for quiet time as I can to gather my beads, sit quietly near a sunny window, the cat at my side, and do mantra repetition and silent meditation. It is a satisfying time and fortifies me for the day surrounding.

Close your eyes and pray, reflect, meditate for a few moments and enjoy the supreme peace brought on.

Could life be any better?

2.   Building an Outdoor Meditation Altar


If you spend much time meditating in your garden, it may be worthwhile to spend the energy to build an outdoor meditation altar.

When I lived on a cleared lot in a pine and oak forest at Yogaville, in central Virginia, I built a couple of secluded altars that blended in to the existing trees.

First, I raked out an area that was open enough to place the altar and sit in front of it, without having to cut down any trees or shrubs.

 

Then I raked a winding path from my driveway to the altar area. Again, I did not cut out any foliage. The path was just about twenty feet long leading off the driveway, so it was just secluded enough that you wouldnít see me sitting there unless you were looking for me.

I placed the altar layout so I would be sitting facing east. If you have a clearing prepared you can do this, but that is not the most important aspect. What is best is to have a place to sit that is level.

I could have made a mounded rock formation and placed small plants in the nooks and crannies, but I went to the local garden center to see what statues they were selling that appealed to me.

For the altar in the photo I chose the Buddha and wedged it into a clay pot filled with small stones to weigh it down. I sat the potted statue on a level concrete block and cemented it in place. Then I placed 6 inch diameter rocks to the sides so it appeared it was sitting on a little mountain amongst the stones.

At each end of the altar a sat a flowering chrysanthemum . That completed the altar arrangement.

In front of the altar I laid out two boards to sit on, to keep me dry when meditating at the altar.

I loved being able to walk out of my house down the path to my little woodland altar. Being in nature has always appealed to me; I feel uplifted smelling the natural scents, listening to birds of the season, feeling the weather against my face.

If you have the opportunity and place, I highly recommend building a personal woodland meditation altar exactly as you wish, with or without garden statues.


Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

3.   Beginning Meditation on Kindness


The simplest way to learn about kindness is to be kind to another and note how it feels in your body. You may feel more relaxed, and your mind may be more peaceful, because you are not dwelling on your own concerns in those moments.

 

Kindness is a win-win situation. The recipient and the giver both get a boost. And, what could be better than that?

 

I heard Bill Gates talking on how the Dutch people were showing kindness by contributing greatly to fund vaccines against AIDS for newborns. He pointed out that this kindness was an inspiration to other countries to be kind in this way. Kudos to Bill Gates for speaking out; he looked radiant and enthusiastic while talking.

 

I call this practical spirituality. Living the virtues is the reason there are virtues in the first place, which do not serve anyone when they sit in The Holy Book from week to week.

 

Here is a guided meditation to bring awareness of kindness to the forefront:

 

Choose a quiet and private place. If youíre sitting on a cushion on the floor, fold your legs in and sit up straight. If youíre sitting on a chair plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor.

 

Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

 

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Now take a breath in on one count, and let it out on one count, breathe in on one count, breathe out on one count. Keep up this even rhythm throughout your meditation without actually saying the counts.

 

Turn your attention to thoughts of kindness. Visualize yourself at the ocean walking along the beach. Up ahead you see a small child looking lost. As you reach the child you stop and look around for the parent. After a minute the parent comes running to their lost child.

 

Now, how do you feel having giving comfort to the child by your caring presence? It feels good. That feeling of satisfaction is kindness in action.

 

Now come back to your regular consciousness in your meditation place. Resolve to act with kindness when tempted to ignore or be sharp with another.

 

To finish your meditation, take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes. Write out any insights in your meditation journal that have come to you. Stretch out and go on with your day in a happy and kind way.

 

Article by Susan Helene Kramer

 

4. Seeing In-depth in the Stillness of Meditation


Sitting in meditation gives one the time to relax in mind and look beyond immediate circumstances; to take in more data.

 

For example

 

When traveling by car at 65 miles per hour, the view is blurry when looking out the side window.

 

But when you stop the car for a moment and look out the side window, even in the countryside, you can see many details, such a types of flowers growing along the road, the number of people in a field off in the distance, the types of trees on the horizon, and other objects, depending on how long you sit there without moving.

 

In the same way, when we sit in meditation our bodily movements slow down. When we are still and not thinking about moving here or there or what we are going to do next, we are taking a vacation from the physical. We have time to use our mind to work out situations in a deeper way, as if we are looking at all that is going on down the side road.

 

This technique for problem solving is a big benefit of quiet, still meditation time.

 

Another way to use the deeper and more far-ranging view is to plan out our own future, and a step-by-step sequence of what we need to accomplish a goal. Then at the end of meditation, we can record our new plan or insights in a journal.

 

The most joyful way I like to use this in-depth quiet time in meditation is to think about family and friends, send them loving thoughts, and then visualize my love spreading outward, person by person and on throughout the universe, including to those who are dear to me and have left my sight in the earthly physical plane.

 

Which brings me to another benefit of this in-depth experience:I feel emotionally close to those who have passed on when I think about them while sitting in meditation.

 

My mother passed away many years ago, but I gather her wise counsel while conversing with her in the depth of quietude.

 

I feel benefitted by visiting the depths of my being, discovering again the endless joy springing from that eternal place within us all. I feel connected to all in the river of bliss flowing deep within my being, a place I can visit and imbibe in at a momentís notice by sitting still in meditation.

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

 

5. Holy Spirit in Meditation


The Holy Spirit permeates every atom of creation, enlivens and nourishes all with radiant energy. The Holy Spirit also speaks to us in meditation via the peaceful yet searing sound that comforts us.

 

When we perceive the sound of the Holy Spirit we are uplifted in our own spirit and mind. Worrisome thoughts leave or dissolve, replaced by gentle peace.

 

After sitting for meditation, keeping your body still, eyes closed, hands folded in lap, wrapped in a light shawl if necessary, say some prayers of appreciation for life.

 

In the quiet space that overcomes the atmosphere surrounding you listen for the entrance of the Holy Spirit, which comes as a spring rushing down a mountainside into your consciousness.

 

Listen. Listen. Hear the leaves on the trees rustling in the distance from the higher peaks around you. This is how the Holy Spirit makes its presence known.

 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are received at this subtle level as peace and harmony in body, mind, emotion. In the very fine vibration a swelling, a rising comes to consciousness, to waking awareness, that gives us the answer to questions on our mind.

 

With a quiet body the mind is not distracted in outer action and fully opens its windows and doorways to receive the wind, the air of spirit that refreshes and replaces negativity.

 

When imbibed in the Holy Spirit there is no room for negative thoughts, as they are crowded out and overcome by the higher frequency of clarity and good. Listening to the Holy Spirit lends goodness to the moment and lifts our mind into a state of overview. We can see our problems as if we are an observer going over them in an airplane.

 

At these moments of crystal clarity we see what needs to be done to improve the situation viewed. More so, we are filled with the energy to resolve problems for the higher good, the long range good without being partial in any direction.

 

Meditation is an opportunity to listen to the Holy Spirit, rise above our personal situations, take a good look as if an observer, then come back to daily life with the knowledge that we can solve what is bothering us.

 

Immersion in the Holy Spirit may seem esoteric, but as with all that Spirit provides us, it points us on a practical path to living a life that keeps us in harmony in our mind, and with others, and the world.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

6. Bedtime Meditation


Ah, the end of the day, and the perfect time to take inventory of the dayís events and plan for the morrow during a quiet meditation.

Once a day it is useful to review what has transpired, consider the pros and cons, how to proceed.

Meditation time with a period for reflection gives us the opportunity to unwind, think about the day, regroup our energy, realign our short term or long term goals as we feel would be beneficial.

Prepare for your bedtime meditation by choosing a quiet and private place to sit, where youíll be undisturbed. I have a spot in my finished attic that I call all mine.

When sitting, keep a journal and pen at your side to record insights and use for later review.

Begin your bedtime meditation by sitting upright on a cushion with your legs folded in, or sit upright on a chair, with your feet firmly planted on the floor to maintain your balance. Fold your hands in your lap, or place them face up or face down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Take a deep inhalation and slowly exhale. Then, begin even regular breathing, such as one count to breathe in, and one count to breathe out. Do not hold your breath at any time.

Keep up the regular rhythm of this even breathing throughout your meditation.

Breath is a tie between the emotional and physical bodies. Conscious even breathing can calm the emotions, and restore balance to your thoughts and body.

Say a prayer to begin your venture within, either a set verse, or in your own words. Then begin listening to your rhythmic breathing in and out. If at any time you hear the Holy Spirit vibration under the crown of your head, begin listening to its soothing sounds.

Start reviewing how your day went. What were the highlights and low points? What could you have done differently? What is the best way to proceed or follow up on the dayís events?

To help you make different choices in the future resolve to act for the best good of situations as they arise. This keeps you on the path toward happiness and harmony as you go along.

It may be tempting to just plan for what you want, personally, but if you consider the whole and others impacted by your choices, you have a better chance of insuring a harmonious surrounding and outcome.

To finish your bedtime meditation take a deep breath in, slowly release it and enjoy the feelings of peace in your body and mind. Open your eyes. Take a minute to record thoughts and plans in your journal. Stretch out and prepare for a good nightís sleep.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

7. Beginning Walking Meditation on the Breath


Let's take the opportunity to commune in a meditation with nature. We can let the natural sounds be part of the rhythmic pulse of our meditation just like we listen to the regular pattern of our breathing.

To begin, go for a walk to a secluded area where you will not be disturbed for half an hour or more. It can even be a meditation bench at the back of your yard if you have the privacy.

Another choice that is less private is a public park such as the rose garden at Mission Santa Barbara in the photo. If you sit with your hands folded in your lap and eyes closed, those passing by will think you are resting and not wide awake behind your shut eyes.

If you have a beach nearby sit at water's edge but not so near that a wave will overtake you. Ideally, you've brought a beach towel or blanket along to sit on.

Meditating outdoors requires a little more preparation than staying in the house: include a sun hat, sunscreen, sweater or light jacket, towel or light blanket, water bottle, insect repellant, fruit or granola bar.

For the meditation, if you are sitting on a blanket on the ground bend your legs in and fold your hands in your lap. If you are sitting on a bench plant your feet firmly on the ground to maintain your balance. Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Either way of sitting, close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Begin even regular breathing one count to breathe in; one count to breathe out; continue this pattern throughout your meditation.

When your breathing is established listen to the sounds of nature around you. Do you hear birds in the distance. Listen to the rhythm of their songs. It is so much like human poetry or song in its repetitions. This rhythm is soothing to the soul. Paying attention to a bird song takes us on a mini-vacation away from cares of this world into a land of harmony.

It is this natural harmony we are looking to capture and take with us after the period of meditation.

When you are ready to end your meditation take another deep breath in and let it out slowly. Stand and stretch and walk home, feeling the harmony of nature all the way down to your bones.

Coming home, if you've had any new insights during the meditation write them in your journal for future contemplation and review.

 

Meditation and photo of Santa Barbara Mission by Susan Helene Kramer

8. Heal Relationships with Meditation


This is a visual meditation for going beyond the clashing mental back and forth roadblocks in relationships, by turning them inside out.

To begin, find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. I have a spot in my attic that is private and peaceful. A small skylight is right overhead to let in natural light and fresh air.

When facing an altar arrange the items youíll need, such as fresh flowers, and uplifting objects - those that hold positive memories.

If you are sitting on the floor on a cushion or folded blanket sit up straight and bend your legs in; if sitting on a chair put the soles of your feet firmly on the floor to maintain your balance and sit up straight. Either way, clasp your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Then begin a series of even regular breathing, such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. You neednít actually say the counts, just keep up this rhythm throughout your meditation.

Say a prayer or an appreciation for this opportunity to effect deep healing.

After observing your regular breathing for a minute turn your thoughts to the relationship you wish to heal.

With your eyes still closed, visualize the sun rising just over the horizon in all the beautiful colors leading to the full light of the golden sun.

Immerse yourself in the warmth of the sun, feel its rays penetrating your physical body, then allow the sunís radiation to light up all the cells of your mental and emotional body. Enjoy this feeling of release from walls separating you from another.

While feeling warm, comfortable and open visualize the person with whom you are having mental conflict. Allow your warmth to spread to and through this person without spiritual reserve. Hold this relationship in this healing glow for a minute or more.

Keep in mind that on the spiritual level we are one family and though mental and emotional issues may seem insurmountable in daily life, you can always reinforce your eternal spiritual connection by sitting in this healing meditation.

To finish your meditation take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes, stretch out, enjoy the expansive feeling of peace and harmony, and carry it into your day.

In Truth all are One
The practice of healing meditation
Is but a reminder.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

9. How to Choose a Meditation Method


When you have read about or tried a couple of methods of meditation, you can narrow down the field to what suits you best.

 

Meditation on the breath

 

A very easy meditation to start out with is following your breath. You can do this as a traditional sitting meditation, or in any movement meditation.

 

Walking is an easy way to follow your breath. Take 2 steps while inhaling and 2 steps while exhaling. Or use another similar rhythmic pattern.

 

Following you breath, paying attention to a breathing pattern distracts you from rambling or troublesome thoughts, giving a taste of peace and harmony in body and mind.

 

Breath is the tie between body, mind, emotions. When upset, turn your attention to rhythmic breathing to calm both your body and mind.

 

Meditate while using a mantra

 

Mantras are sounds, vibrations, that evoke a response in your mind and body. Mantras that are known to generate feelings of peace include: Om; Om Shanti; Om reveal; Hari Om; Peace; harmony; love.

 

Using a mala or prayer beads to say your mantra aids in keeping you on task. Move ahead on bead per mantra repetition. The photo illustrates how to hold the beads.

 

If you are using prayer and a rosary you probably already know that you move ahead one bead per prayer.

 

Choose a mantra that you are comfortable with. If you are following a religious tradition, stick with that in choosing your mantra. This advice was given to me by my spiritual teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda.

 

Summary

 

Meditation methods are personal choices, and like a buffet there is something for everyone. When you are out in public and want to regain your peace, try the rhythmic breathing. No one will know what you are doing and you can regain a feeling of harmony in your mind.

 

When you are sitting privately, you could do mantra repetition using a mala or rosary. I keep my mala with my altar. Even just looking at my mala calms and focuses my mind.

 

Try out these meditation methods and choose what feels best to you.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

10. Meditation for Inner Peace


Inner peace is important for everyone. It is the basis for success in creating and maintaining positive actions and their products in our lives.

 

When we feel peaceful within, we are not worrying, and make space in our mind for new thoughts to come up, and creative ideas have time to blossom into new projects.

 

To begin your meditation choose a quiet place to sit where you will not be disturbed. This could be a garden space in warm weather. Indoors, you could set up a corner of your bedroom, or a space in the attic, if you have one.

 

If you use an altar, keep it clean with fresh flowers, a container to burn a favorite incense, inspiring pictures or a book, sacred objects or those that uplift you. If you use a rosary or mala it can be kept on your altar, ready for use. On my altar I have a crystal from the Himalayas and I curl my mala around it. Just looking at it brings feelings of peace to my mind.

 

When you sit for meditation throw on a light shawl if that is cozier. Your body may cool down while sitting still.

 

Sit up straight on a cushion on the floor, or if sitting on a chair also keep your back upright, and plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor to maintain balance. Fold your hands in your lap or place your palms face up or face down on your thighs. If you wish to use you beads for mantra repetition hold them in your lap.

 

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Now start easy, even rhythmic breathing, such as one count to breathe in, and one count to breathe out. Continue this pattern throughout your meditation, without actually saying the counts.

 

Turn your attention to thoughts of appreciation for the good in your life. This puts you in a positive frame of mind.

 

For this meditation think on inner peace and how you can maintain it when stressed. One way is by doing the same even rhythmic breathing you are using in this meditation.

 

No one need even know you are resorting to the even breaths to maintain your peace. But you know and that is what is important. You neednít say that you are doing a breathing exercise, just do it.

 

Finish your inner peace meditation by drawing in a deep breath and letting it go while enjoying the feelings of peace and harmony in your body.

 

Whenever you need a reminder to find your inner peace, sit in meditation and do the regular even breathing.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

11. Is It Better to Meditate at Dawn or Dusk?


Is there a time of day that is best to meditate? Either dawn or dusk are ideal times to meditate. The changing of night into day and day into night are transition times in our energy level.

 

In the morning we are just getting going. Slowly our energy is being whipped into an internal turbine that propels us forward for the active time of the day. If we can catch ourselves right in the transition and sit in meditation for a while, we have a chance to direct our growing energy in a forward direction. We can set the tone for the day with a positive attitude, and carry out what we need to in a way, that gets the snowball of creative and productive activities happening.

 

Looking at the other swing of the pendulum, that would be dusk, we are winding down our inner clock, recovering from the dayís activities, moving at a slower pace. This is the time we may natural reflect on the day. Combining this time with meditation gives us a fuller opportunity to think back over the past hours and with those events in mind, plan for the following day. It is a time to really consider if we are moving in the direction we want. Are our actions bringing about good to ourselves and others? Are we moving in line with our long term goals?

 

If you decide on including the dawn meditation in your schedule and you miss it, then another ideal time is the middle of the day. I like 1:30pm as my midday meditation. Sitting still at this time gives me a chance to rest before the push of the afternoon. I can sharpen my focus for the rest of the dayís active time, and readjust the direction I am going if the morning has not been productive.

 

To summarize, either dawn or dusk are useful times to meditate in their own way, which is before beginning activities, or afterward, as a review of what happened during the day. Midday can be a tune up if you feel the need. Try out the morning and evening times and go with what works best for you to fit into your regular schedule. The important decision is to choose a time that you like and feel comfortable with sticking to.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

12. Kids Can Walk Stress Away with a Guided Meditation


Walking is a very useful way to recover your peace and balanced mind and body after being upset or stressed. It is for kids, teens and adults. The body, mind, emotions are tied together with the breath. Even and regulated breathing calms the body and mind when upset.

Walking along with regulated breathing is especially useful in bringing the mind back to center: you are combining physical and the breath in a harmonious rhythmic pattern.

Kids that have trouble concentrating can walk hand in hand with a calmer person to keep on the path.

To begin:

Pick a pathway you are used to and are sure is safe from predators, others riding bikes, motor scooters or cars. An enclosed area like the inside perimeter of a playground could be a good choice. Another idea may be the school track when teams are not working out.

As you step out begin a regular rhythmic pattern of breathing, such as one count for every two steps. Let your arms swing at your side back and front in opposition to your legs. For example: as your right foot steps forward, swing your left arm forward, and as your left foot steps forward swing your right arm forward.

So now you have your breathing and physical exercise all set. It's time to add thoughts that calm and bring harmony back into your life so that when your walk is over you feel positive about the issues you face at home, school or work.

When you set out think about a positive event that you've been through, such as a holiday celebration. Try to relive that experience on your walk. The benefits of remembering are it takes you back to a happy state of mind; you are recreating it for the present. Just to remember and recreate those thoughts while walking clears away the stress and negativity you may be feeling.

Recreating a positive event shows that you can get through difficulties and stress. Let the rhythm and regular breathing of walking help you with your problem solving while you enjoy the fresh energy brought up through walking. In closing, remember that a good walk of five minutes or more goes a long way to dissolving stress.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

 

Part II.

13. Meditation on Giving and Receiving


What you see is what you in turn receive. If you see the positive in a situation you can use the example to strengthen yourself. Why spend time dwelling on, ruminating on the negative?

Both positive and negative can be seen in this world. It will make you a happier person to dwell on the positive and thereby increase your moments making spiritual progress.

What is spiritual progress? Seeing the good, emulating it, feeling it, radiating it.

When you give out positive vibrations and actions, you receive peace and harmony in the moment of your actions. It is not that you will receive a kind action in return. You may or may not. But you do increase the moments of your life spent in positive, productive actions.

Begin your meditation by choosing a quiet and private space to sit. If you are sitting on the floor on a cushion, bend your legs in. If sitting on a straight back chair, place the soles of your feet firmly on the floor for balance. Either way, fold your hands in your lap, or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath and release it. Then take up even, regular breathing for the remainder of your meditation. For example, breathe in 2 counts; breathe out 2 counts and continue. Do not hold your breath at any time.

Say an opening set prayer or one of your own creation to set the tone for your meditation. Then observe your breaths going in and out in their rhythmic fashion. This practice gives peace of mind and harmony between action and thought.

Keep up the even breathing and turn your thoughts to becoming a more giving person. The more you give of yourself, the better you will feel about yourself and youíll receive feelings of joy in the very act of giving.

Now, to finish your meditation, take another deep breath in and slowly release it. Stretch out and go on with your day: rejuvenated, peaceful, positive.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

14. Diving Deeply Into Meditation


Meditation is a process of getting closer and closer to our Source, regardless of the religion we practice, or with no religious beliefs.

The more we meditate, the deeper we sink toward our roots that go inward, and radiate further than the physical and mental realms into the unseen spiritual.

It takes time to adjust to sitting in meditation. Our body may just be used to being still when we are sleeping. And now we are asking it to remain still while our mind is fully consciously aware and awake to all around.

It is a phenomena in deep meditation that we may hear what goes on around, such as a plane flying overhead, but we donít move or flinch. Iíve found after many years of meditating that my body rests fully very quickly when I sit to meditate.

Completing a meditation is like getting up from a nap, except the mind is fully awake during meditation, and in the physical quietude may have come up with some resolves to outer problems, or creative ideas to put into form.

Deep meditation is a gift you enjoy and that keeps giving back through the expansion of your mindís abilities to surf successfully in the world.

Time spent quietly in meditation may relax you enough to realize that you really do know how to resolve a problem. While running around ruminating on it you were covering the space in your mind that had the solution all along.

When you first begin meditation practice, resolve to sit still for one minute. Add a minute to each of your following sessions till youíve reached ten minutes or more. You may find that you relish this time of peace and quiet, overwhelmed in the joy that seeps into your consciousness from your internal roots in spirit.

Physical roots are dense bundles to hold the plants upright, but the unseen roots of spirit are strong and radiant lines of bliss. Meditation leads us along these lifelines of nourishment to our eternal Source in Spirit.

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

15. Sitting Meditation for College Age Students


You are finally off on your own, or more so than in high school. You are a young adult. Going from the late teens to the solid twenties doesnít happen overnight. It is one step at a time that begins with the onset of puberty. The college years are a time for getting stronger and settled in yourself, for developing your own set of morals, away from parents telling you what to do.

The college years are both a joy being more emotionally independent, and a trial learning how to take care of yourself. One big help is a daily period of meditation for reflection and quiet listening to your inner voice of insight. First thing in the morning is a good time to sit quietly in meditation pose for a few minutes and gather together strength for the day. Then at night, before sleep, a period of reflection helps set the day in order, especially if it has been hectic.

Meditation for reflection:

Dress comfortably, perhaps in your pajamas. Sit up straight on the floor by your bed on a pillow or cushion. Fold your legs in and clasp your hands in your lap or lay them face up or face down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Begin even and regular breathing in a rhythmic pattern; for example, breathe in one count, breathe out one count, breathe in one count, and continue. Breath is the tie between body, mind, emotions. Even, regulated breathing calms upset, and brings you back to a harmonious state of being. Continue the even pattern throughout your meditation.

Bring to mind, one at a time, events from the day. Consider how you reacted. Is there something you would have done differently, now that you are thinking back on the situation? What would be a better or more useful way to act in the future? Bring up the next event and go through the same process of analyses and contemplation.

After meditation it is useful to write out new insights in a meditation journal or diary to review occasionally. I keep a journal and pen beside me when I meditate. Recording your thoughts and insights in a journal is a handy lifelong habit. You can keep track of how you handled specific events and what showed to be the best course of action. To finish your contemplative meditation, take a deep breath and slowly release it, stretch out, and prepare for bed or study.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

16. Change of Season Meditation


The changes in season remind me to reevaluate my goals for living and then everything that entails. Making an extra effort to focus on what is of the highest priority helps me get on track for days ahead.

With the end of summer blending into autumn, I donít think it is an accident that the true color of leaves show themselves in all their brilliance at this stage of their life. I reflected on just that occurrence which inspired me to write this verse:

Leaves shrouded in green during growth and maturity
Only reveal their brilliantly colored inner self
Near the end of their lives.
Can it be thus with me?


All of us grow and mature at different rates. We begin to glow in brilliance as we live in a way that lets our inner self shine ever brighter, right into the next dimension of living. The sooner we begin to work on our inner glow while in the midst of working toward worldly accomplishments, the more time we have to really enjoy harmony and happiness in living.

Here is a meditation for using the change of season to accelerate inner growth:

Begin by choosing a quiet place to meditate. If you sit in front of an altar, let it reflect your inner golden self by lighting a candle and placing fresh flowers on it. If you wish burn incense Ė my favorite is sandalwood. Clean yourself before meditating as this is a reminder to keep pure thoughts in mind and replace discord with accord.

Sit up straight on a cushion and bend in your legs, or sit straight on a chair with the soles of your feet firmly planted on the floor for balance. Fold your hands in your lap or rest them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Then begin even and regular breathing such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Keep up this rhythm throughout your meditation.

In your thoughts say an appreciation for the good you have in your life and then dwell on how you can act to make your inner light shine even brighter. Are you currently on the right path to make this happen? Can you think of any changes you can make to upgrade your actions and their subsequent results?

Now go back to following your rhythmic breaths for a minute and then take another deep breath, slowly release it, open your eyes, stretch out and write any new thoughts in your meditation journal.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

17. All Saints Day Meditation on Harmony


Many saints overcame obstacles to become who they are, and Iíd like to say that in many cases it is the process of overcoming that turns us into saints. Life offers choices and by choosing that which does no harm to ourselves or anyone else we maintain peace of mind.

Being kind while acting for the highest good of the situation allows us to improve the quality of our inner life - which shows up in the manifestations of our outer life. We maintain our harmony in this way.
Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
If we forget to be kind and are nasty instead we disturb our peace of mind. Returning to kindness sets us aright once more.

That is the lesson from the saints. At any chance you can, read about their lives and struggles. Learn by their examples how to lead a harmonious life - a saintly life.

Meditation

Choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit up straight on a cushion on the floor with your legs bent in, or sit on a chair with your back straight and plant the soles of your feet on the floor to maintain your balance. Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Then begin even regular breathing such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Keep up this rhythm throughout your meditation. Take the role of the observer and follow your even breathing.

Breath ties body, thoughts, emotions together into an alert relaxation. When one element of the trio is out of sorts, even breathing can aid in restoring your peace. And when we are feeling peaceful we think more clearly.

Contemplate on how you can overcome your shortcomings to reach a saintly state of mind. I recommend bringing kindness into your daily actions to achieve a saintly life. Remember weíre only here on earth for a determinate amount of time. It is up to each of us to strive for our saintly potential and enjoy the bliss and harmony it engenders.

To complete your meditation take a deep cleansing breath in and release it as you did to begin your meditation. Resolve to go forward being your best by doing your best. Open your eyes and stretch out. Lastly, thank the saints that have come before for their lessons and examples of growing toward our most holy state of being.

I highly recommend this book that I recently read and found moving - Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux - Available from Amazon.com
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Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

18. Walking Meditation for College Age Students


Taking a break during the day for a walking meditation is a way to sort out the momentís priorities, think up a plan of action to complete the tasks at hand, or even long-range goals.

Begin your walking meditation by choosing a safe path where you can relax without worrying more. You donít want to be getting lost along the way or have to be concerned about being assaulted.

Dress for the weather. Set out from your room carrying a daypack with some essentials such as a small water bottle, sunglasses, light jacket, umbrella if the weather is threatening or it is raining. By the way, if you are dressed for it, rain can be an aid to a walking meditation with the its rhythmical dripping and cleansing effect. Keep your mobile phone with you but turned off for the time of the meditation, so that if you do need to use it youíll have it handy.

Plan on spending at least 10 minutes walking silently, but longer might be more useful for the time it affords. Youíll notice that the longer you go for a walking meditation, the deeper you can get into problem solving, untangling the tentacles of issues and technicalities.

On your walking meditation approach a problem with an attitude of finding a resolve you can be responsible for that does not include blaming others for your situation. By taking responsibility for solving your own problems you take control of your life and pull closer to an adult attitude of being responsible for yourself. The late teens are a time for completing that walk on the tightrope of growing emotionally - begun in puberty, completed in adulthood.

As you walk swing your arms back and forth in opposition to your legs, like this: when you step forward on the right foot swing your left arm forward, and conversely, when you step out on the left foot swing your right arm forward. Try this pattern ahead of time and notice that you physically can feel the balance.

Keeping a positive attitude during your walking meditation gives the best chance of success in clearing your head and allowing new ideas to emerge.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

19. Improve Your Abilities through Concentration


By calmly and quietly thinking through problems and situations one phase at a time, a resolve or answer will arise in your thoughts. When you act quickly on a problem or expect to immediately understand all the ramifications you may too easily give up when there is not the desired result.

Concentrating on resolving each small part of a big problem leads to a cumulative result. For example, walking along a trail strewn with rocks and boulders takes more concentration than jogging around a track.

When a problem is complex or difficult we need to pay attention to the details by concentrating little by little till the answer is known. It is this way whether for spiritual advancement through concentration and meditation, or scientific understanding.

The key to using concentration productively in all dimensions of living is to take one step at a time, digest, apply towards the next step, digest, and continue in this way.

In daily practical living, if you limit yourself to acting on impulse you wonít find the deeper answers that are waiting to be uncovered. All is here for us - it is up to each to search carefully, methodically, to find the answers.

Apply concentration to each area of living such as relationships, spiritual understanding, complex word problems, too. In this way you expand your ability to grasp more than you thought possible.

Concentration for spiritual progress

Concentration is part of the meditation process that develops a calm and one-pointed mind.

In the spiritual quest for enlightenment - for bliss - concentrate on developing the virtues that will keep your mind calm and your life in harmony. Being kind is one virtue that can keep you relaxed and feeling fine so that your ultimate spiritual goal is realized. Concentrate on kindness as you concentrate to solve problems and your life will be peaceful and useful - a living meditation.

Look upon a meadow throughout the seasons and see how each plant shows a more complex version the longer it grows. All the information for the final display is contained in the tiniest seed to begin, and with the application of time and nutrients the beautiful result comes about. In a similar way each problem we encounter, each event we wish to understand more thoroughly, reveals itself to us by our concentration on the process day by day or in increments.

Keeping a goal in mind throughout the learning process helps us stay motivated till we reach understanding, and when spirituality is the goal - till we experience bliss.


Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

20. Thanksgiving Day Meditation on the Harvest


We have this holiday but once a year, and as we bow our heads at our festive meal in remembrance of the harvest we have the opportunity to reflect deeply on all weíre given in life.

Thanksgiving Day is a reminder to be ever grateful for the gifts of the earth put here to nourish us as we care for our planet in return. The raw resources may be abundant but it is up to us to be custodians of what is exhaustible, so future generations will continue to benefit.
Harvest of grapes in The Netherlands. Photo credit Susan Kramer
Thanksgiving Meditation

Find a time to sit quietly in front of your altar. Light a new candle in autumn colors of yellow or orange. Light incense if you wish, I prefer sandalwood. If you are sitting on a cushion on the floor bend your legs in and sit up straight. If you are sitting in a chair, sit up straight, place a cushion at your lower back for support if needed and place the soles of your feet firmly on the floor for balance.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them face up or face down on your thighs. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Then begin even and regular breathing such a one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Do not hold your breath at any time. Keep up the rhythmic even pattern throughout your meditation. You donít need to say the counting aloud.

Turn your thoughts to thanksgiving for all you have in your life. When we feel appreciative we feel relaxed and fulfilled and donít need a continual parade of physical acquisitions to renew our happiness.

Beyond having the basics for survival, real peace and harmony is attained by an even state of mind infused with bliss. Bliss comes and stays as we immerse ourselves in appreciative attitudes and kind actions.

Turn your attention to following your breath in and out. You are as the observer when paying attention to the flow of breath. Remain steady in your mind as your life flows in daily rhythms for survival. Hold onto your internal peace when external events change.

Finish your meditation by taking a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes and stretch out. Take the peace and harmony of feeling thankful for all you have into your daily living.


Meditation and photo by Susan Helene Kramer

21. Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila - Book Review


Rarely does one come across a spiritual book that almost knocks your socks off with its mental images. It leads the reader into the mind to find the existence and complexity of the soul. St. Teresa takes us on the inner journey from barely becoming aware of our spiritual nature to full bliss in the home of God.
Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila
One analogy that St. Teresa uses is of the soul being a shining diamond, and the many facets being rooms leading nearer and closer to the interior peace and bliss at its center.

Throughout the book she describes what it is like as we journey within through meditation into each room as its treats open up to us. She does not forget to remind us each step of the way to not be egoistic and thereby fall back into worldly attachments for happiness.

She cautions that while attractions of the world bring joy in the moment they do not last and just have to be repeated over and over for further tastes of happiness.

St. Teresa describes through her own and guided experiences from God and the Holy Spirit, that there is nothing in the material world that can even hint at the joy attained by gaining entrance to the interior mansions of the soul.

This book was a wakeup call to me to stick with the spiritual path and not fall into temptations that could cause me to be distracted from the experience of joy permeating my life. St. Teresa goes over the journey of marching inward from different angles and points of view, which supports her way of looking at the soul as a faceted sparkling diamond.

St. Teresa wrote these words in the late 1500s - yes, more than 400 years ago, but their meaning is totally fresh to the modern reader. I found difficulty at first getting into the text, for some reason I resisted hearing how much work is needed in meditation to understand the soul.

But at some point almost halfway through I was hooked and couldnít get enough. Even her words allude to this phenomena: that as the soul progresses toward the center sun of God it becomes fired with unquenchable flames to keep moving toward the goal of bliss.

Recommended for the sincere seeker.

Interior Castle is available at this link at amazon.com.

This edition of Interior Castle was translated and edited by E. Allison Peers.

Review by Susan Helene Kramer

 

22. Advent Preparations and Prayer


The few weeks leading up to Christmas give us time to think about the spiritual meaning of Christís birth. These are weeks to make preparations in your heart and for your hearth.

You could begin by laying out an advent wreath on the dining room table or a side table. Make room by putting the usual knickknacks away for the holidays. I like to use this time to give away what I donít really need or use any longer.

In the center of your wreath set up candles to burn the four Sundays preceding Christmas, and place a fancier candle in the center for Christmas Day - I like either a tall thick red candle or a decorated candle large enough to burn all day.

Burning candles each of the four Sundays reminds me that the light of the world will again be centered in our hearts and thoughts. If you have a tendency to slip away from meditation and spiritual practices over the course of the year, this is a joyous time to renew your devotion.

I love burning all my candles down on Christmas Day, the remainders from the four Sundays and the special Christmas candle. If it is available surround your wreath with evergreens and change as necessary to keep them fresh. Some lay them in a shallow bowl of water like we provide for the Christmas tree.

Before going to sleep each night of Advent spend time in a meditation on the birth of Christ and what it means to you. Is it a renewal of kindness in your heart and actions with others? Is this your time to align with other virtues that will uplift you into daily harmony?

Close your meditation with a little Advent prayer:

Come to me sweet holy babe
Make a cradle in my heart
I will cherish you each day
While learning lessons you impart.

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

23. Proof of Heaven - Book Review


The full title of this book by Dr. Eben Alexander III is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeonís Journey into the Afterlife. Sometimes it takes someone who is highly respected to have a book with sensational insights be believable, and this may be the case with this one.
<i>Proof of Heaven</i> by Dr. Eben Alexander III
Neurosurgeon, Dr. Eben Alexander III found after coming out of a deep coma lasting 7 days, that he had clear memories of traveling in the spiritual world that could not be put under the category of fantasies created by his brain in his coma.

More so, his NDE - near death experience of expansion into consciousness awakened him to the certain knowledge that we as humans are voyagers on earth, that we have come from a vast spiritual consciousness that is under the loving care of God. And that God is present with us and in every atom every moment for all eternity. Pretty amazing insights.

I found the author's words instilling me with hope and joy in being connected to all. He explains this divine presence that is always with us, though perhaps not seen by us, as if we are living on a multitude of frequencies - all of which we may not be aware. And he deduces that the lesson he learned can be summed up by love - that the unconditional love of God is present in a caring way for all of us.

The story moves right along while detailing the onset of Dr. Alexanderís illness and period of coma, recovery and his writing of the insights he returned with. I can promise that you wonít be bored. How could one be, when a chord of spiritual truth resonates with your own similar chord within.

And you donít need to have a NDE to realize these insights for yourself. Dr. Alexander recommends prayer and meditation as ways to go deeply into yourself and so discover, uncover the spiritual nature of your being that has been with you for eternity.

I am very glad to see this book come to life for everyone that is searching for proof of their soul or afterlife, or from where they have come.

I think it is a blessing to read about the process of Dr. Alexanderís analysis, from his life and attitudes in medicine and science, to his discovery of consciousness existing beyond the physical realm.

The easy-to-read format of the book makes it accessible to all serious voyagers on earth who want confirmation they are vastly more than their body and brain.

Highest recommendation.

Details: Paperback; 208 pages; Simon and Schuster Publisher (October 23, 2012) ISBN-10: 1451695195; ISBN-13: 978-1451695199

Review by Susan Helene Kramer

Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander III is available at this link at amazon.com

 

24. One Minute Bedtime Meditation


If you are not used to setting a regular time for meditation, start with one minute right before bedtime. It is a time of day for winding down, and meditation can cap off the process.

Begin by doing all your bedtime preparations first, up until the time you slip under the covers. The easiest way to begin is to sit on the edge of your bed if the soles of your feet can be firmly planted on the floor. Alternately, sit on a cushion next to your bed or on a straight chair.

Sit up straight with all the methods and fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Begin even and regular breathing. For example, breathe in two counts, breathe out two counts, breathe in two counts and keep up this rhythmic pattern for your minute of meditation. Breath is the tie between body, mind, emotions, in that even breathing such as Iíve described can calm agitation and relax the body. If you have had a very hectic day this may be your only time to unwind, rehash your day and relax before sleep.

Once youíve gotten your breathing rhythm established take a few moments to think of someone you love or a favorite pet, and let that smile come to your face. Think with appreciation about the good and the blessings you have in your life.

Your minute may be almost up but before crawling under the covers take time to listen to the stillness surrounding your inner heart, and send this peace out via your own sun rays to your family, friends, this planet, the entire universe, which is truly our communal home. Visualize harmony and love pervading everyone, everywhere.

When we make the conscious effort to radiate love we are energizing ourselves and filling our own lives with that same radiance at the same time. It truly is a win-win fact that when we give our love we are energized with loving energy at the same time.

To finish your one minute meditation take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes and enjoy the peace and relaxation this brief meditation affords
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Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

 

Part III.

25. Christmas Joy Meditation


The joy from Christmas and thinking about the birthday of Christ can last far into the year. Real joy is like that - it enlivens us just by turning our thoughts toward the spiritual light.

Christmas Joy Prayer

Christmas joy comes once a year
But stays alive within our thoughts
When we with love and kindness give
And help each other from our heart.
Letís remember Christmas day
A guiding star that shows the way
A wondrous glow that burns so bright
Shining forth the birth of Christ
Shining forth - the Light of Lights.


Letís meditate - Choose a quiet time to sit in front of your altar, either on a cushion with your legs bent in or on a chair - soles of feet firmly planted on the floor for balance. Light a Christmas candle and quietly watch it glow. Breathe in an even and regular pattern such a one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Maintain this rhythm throughout your meditation.

Continue watching the candle with your eyes half shut. Think with appreciation about someone or a pet that is dear to you. Our dear ones are gifts while we live on earth. Once love is established with others they will always be in our circle of love - just as the dear Lord is with each of us in the Grand circle of love.

Close your eyes and watch your breath as the observer. Even breathing is a great help is harmonizing body, mind and emotions. When out of sorts, meditation with even breathing helps us calm down and find our center place again.

Reflect on the gift of Christís birth on earth and into our lives. Think of ways you can nurture this gift through sharing joyfully with others in an ever growing circle with family, friends, the world and universe.

When you are ready, take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes and stretch out. Let your inner joy shine brightly as you revel in the joy brought on by thoughts of Christ on his birthday.

Meditation and photo from Le Louvre, Paris, France by Susan Helene Kramer

26. Prayer and Meditation in Honor of Ravi Shankar


Prepare for this meditation by choosing a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. If the weather is pleasant, sit outdoors in a private spot.

Sit up straight on a cushion and fold your legs in, or if sitting on a chair, sit up as straight as possible and place the soles of your feet firmly on the floor or ground for balance.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Begin even and regular breathing such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Continue this rhythmic and unstressed pattern throughout your meditation. Even breathing quiets and harmonizes body, mind and emotions, giving you a chance to rest into your essential nature.

Read the One with Nature Prayer out loud or silently. Repeat the prayer as you would a mantra until you feel at one within yourself and your surroundings.

One with Nature Prayer

One with nature
Ever we are
Traveling on silent wings
Near and far
One with all
People animals plants rocks
Ether water fire
Visions thoughts
Interwoven
Fabric of creation
Aspects of divinity
Heart soul
One with Divinity.


This prayer is a good way to begin your daily spiritual practice. I recommend beginning each meditation with a prayer after you seat yourself. You could also memorize a portion of the prayer and use it as a calming mantra. I wrote the prayer on 12/12/12 inspired by the strong all-pervading energy of this day, with thoughts on the passing and life of Ravi Shankar.

Finish your meditation by taking a deep breath in and slowly releasing it. Keep in mind that we are ever one with each other in spirit and part of the universal family in the Divine.

Article and prayer by Susan Helene Kramer

27. New Yearís Day - Establish a Meditation Practice


Take some time to quietly contemplate the meaning of the New Year. Do you have big changes coming in your life? For all of us the unexpected is right around the corner, and the way to be better prepared is through daily meditation.

Regular meditation lays the ground cloth to sit upon and not get wet when lifeís events throw us down or give us a spin. When we are used to meditating, we more easily fall back into the peaceful state of mental rest and contemplation when weíre put to the test.

It is always useful to have a backup plan for lifeís ups and downs and being a regular meditator is a tried and true way.

To practice daily meditation pick a time that you can fit into your existing schedule - then it will be easier to actually sit and do it. Next, pick a place to sit where you will not be disturbed for the length of time you wish to be in quiet and silence.

For this article letís talk about meditating next to your bed as a convenient spot. You could store your meditation cushion under your bed and slide it out when ready.

Or if you need to be on a chair, try sitting on the edge of your bed to see if it is the correct height, so you can place the soles of your feet on the floor to help maintain your balance.

If you wish, a portion of the top surface of your clothes dresser can be a spot to set up objects that inspire you. I have my dresser laid out like that, so that every time I walk by I feel uplifted.

When you are ready to meditate close your bedroom door to shut out the world and prepare to explore your inner place of peace.

Sit in you meditation position, back straight, fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Begin even and regular breathing such as one count to breathe in, one count to breathe out, and one count to breathe in, and on and on in this rhythm without holding your breath.

As this meditation is to be your regular daily standby, take time to observe your breath going in and out. Listen to the sound of your breathing and if at some point you hear the inner sound seeming to be centered under the crown of your head, listen to that melody instead. Stick with this as long as you can.

Finish your daily meditation with thoughts of appreciation for at least one person or a pet that you love.

May the love within my heart and soul
Always wrap you in its warmth, dear _________.


Take a deep breath in and slowly release it, open your eyes and stretch out, refreshed.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

28. Understanding Unconditional Love Meditation


Unconditional love is wishing the best for everyone - not limited to one in particular. If you donít love all unconditionally, then you love no one unconditionally, because it is the quality of your own being that you project. For example, the sun shines upon all, not just a few, because its essence is radiance - it could do no less.

Unconditional love is caring love. Lustful love is a desire for sensory or exclusive material possession.

Emotional love could be either unconditional love or sensory love. Lovers may start out with emotional feelings and sensory desires, and later develop a deep caring that wants what is best for the other.

And still later caring feelings could stretch beyond one individual to include wanting what is best for family, relatives, community, country, all peoples of the world and the natural world - stretching beyond into the universe.

Spiritual love is unconditional love in action.

Our Creator-Sustainer loves every atom of creation unconditionally through the unstoppable energy flowing through - this is our model and goal, to love likewise in a steady stream.

Meditation

Begin by choosing a private place where you will not be disturbed. If you are sitting on a cushion on the floor hold your back straight, look forward, bend your legs in and fold your hands in your lap or rest them palms up or palms down on your thighs. If you are sitting on a chair sit up straight and plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor to maintain balance. Fold your hands in your lap or on your thighs as just described.

Close your eyes and begin even and regular breathing such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation without actually saying the counts. Do not hold your breath at any time. Breath is a tie between body and emotions. When feeling upset even breathing calms the body again.

Now, turn your attention to contemplating the meaning of unconditional love with the ideas set out above. Imagine yourself caring for others with all your intention and strength. Think how you could carry this out in daily life in an active way, perhaps through community service.

Make the intention to love as you go, to care as you go.

To finish your meditation take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes and stretch out, energized, ready to stretch love into action, unconditionally.

In summary: Unconditional love is sending out thoughts that the best will happen to others. God shines his sun on all of us and it is up to each of us to turn our faces towards it in openness and kindness. Because it is the Light in action, it is the happiest way to live.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

29. Learn About Being Kind Meditation


If you have been reading my meditations for awhile, you probably know that every year being kind is my New Year's resolution. The simplest way to learn about kindness is to be kind to another and note how it feels in your body. You may feel more relaxed, and your mind may be more peaceful, because you are not dwelling on your own concerns in those moments.

Kindness is a win-win situation. The recipient and the giver both get a boost. And, what could be better than that?

I heard Bill Gates talking on how the Dutch people were showing kindness by contributing greatly to fund vaccines against AIDS for newborns. He pointed out that this kindness was an inspiration to other countries to be kind in this way. Kudos to Bill Gates for speaking out; he looked radiant and enthusiastic while talking.

I call this practical spirituality. Living the virtues is the reason there are virtues in the first place, which do not serve anyone when they sit in The Holy Book from week to week.

Here is a guided meditation to bring awareness of kindness to the forefront:

Choose a quiet and private place. If youíre sitting on a cushion on the floor, fold your legs in and sit up straight. If youíre sitting on a chair plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Now take a breath in on one count, and let it out on one count, breathe in on one count, breathe out on one count. Keep up this even rhythm throughout your meditation without actually saying the counts.

Turn your attention to thoughts of kindness. Visualize yourself at the ocean walking along the beach. Up ahead you see a small child looking lost. As you reach the child you stop and look around for the parent. After a minute the parent comes running to their lost child.

Now, how do you feel having giving comfort to the child by your caring presence? It feels good. That feeling of satisfaction is kindness in action.

Now come back to your regular consciousness in your meditation place. Resolve to act with kindness when tempted to ignore or be sharp with another.

To finish your meditation, take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes. Write out any insights in your meditation journal that have come to you. Stretch out and go on with your day in a happy and kind way.

Kind in mind
Feeling fine -
Kind in action
Fine reaction.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

30. Meditating in the Passenger Seat While Traveling


It is possible to meditate while in the passenger seat while traveling. In fact, it is a productive use of time, that you might otherwise spend being worried about your trip.

To begin a passenger seat meditation sit up as much as possible to keep your attention focused and to not fall asleep. Place the soles of your feet on the vehicle floor for balance. Fold your hands in your lap, or place them palms down on your thighs, if you wish to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Close your eyes.

Quietly take a deep breath and slowly release it. Start even and regular breathing, such a one count to breathe in, and one count to breathe out. Keep up this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation.

Pay attention to your breathing, focus on the breaths. If you find your thoughts wandering gently bring them back to the task at hand, which is observing your breathing pattern.

Breath is a tie between body, thinking mind, and emotions. By controlling your breathing rhythm you block out any upset you may be feeling by traveling. You are creating a little self-contained world of your own and you have taken charge by sticking to being the observer of your even breathing.

When you feel like ending the meditation take a moment to think with appreciation for all the good in your life and send peaceful thoughts to your loved-ones and those around you. Extend your loving thoughts on to the world community and beyond.

Finally, take a quiet deep breath and slowly release it. Open your eyes and enjoy the relaxation that meditation endows as you go on with your trip and your day.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

31. Valentine's Day Reflection and Meditation


Valentineís Day is a precious holiday - it gets right to the heart of our body, mind, soul. Our physical heart pumps life giving blood all through our body. Our thoughts turn to loving and caring - our emotions. Our soul relishes the chance to take center stage on this day and express its radiance as an everlasting sun within us for all eternity, ever super-conscious - far outlasting our body and mind.

Letís take time for a special meditation to celebrate Valentineís Day

Choose a private place where you will not be disturbed, perhaps a corner of your bedroom or next to your bed. If you sit on a cushion on the floor bend your legs in. If sitting on a chair hold your back straight - donít lean back into the chair, and keep the soles of your feet firmly planted on the floor for balance.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Begin even and gentle breathing such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Keep up this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation without actually saying the counts. Even breathing regulates your body and emotions; if you are upset it is calming.

Turn your thoughts to the meaning of Valentineís Day. Is it a time to be more emotionally expressive? Is it a chance to send a card with a loving thought? Can you take time to do a loving act for someone or others? Spend some time in reflecting on your own ideas for the holiday.

At the end of your silent time, send thoughts of appreciation out to the whole planet and the larger universe of which we are an essential part.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes and stretch out with a firm resolve to share the radiance of your heart with all.

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

32. Lent Meditation


Beginning with Ash Wednesday, the approximately six weeks following are a time of increased spiritual fervor to prepare our body, mind and heart for the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

This is a time of year to concentrate on thoughts of the mystical splendor of our Lord arising from his mortal tomb - body and soul. How is this possible? What are the lessons for us to learn by the events of the resurrection?

While living on earth we may not find out all the reasons, but by faith and hope we can purify our heart and everyday life enough to feel the great emotion of being uplifted in our thoughts, and that is a start on our way to communion with the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God.

Meditation for Lent

Choose a quiet place where you can sit and not be disturbed for the length of time that you wish to meditate. I have an attic spot that is under a skylight where I enjoy a sitting meditation. Donít light a candle in your attic, though.

If you are sitting on a cushion on the floor bend your legs in, straighten your posture, fold your hands in your lap or place them face up or face down on your thighs. If sitting on a chair, also keep your back straight - donít lean on the chair. Plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor for balance, and hold your hands as just described.

If the weather is chilly wrap a shawl around your shoulders as your body temperature may lower by sitting still. Think about what you would wrap yourself in if taking a nap, though you wonít be going to sleep mentally.

Close your eyes. Begin to breathe in an even and regular pattern, such as one count to breathe in, and one count to breathe out. Keep up this rhythm throughout your meditation without actually saying the counts out loud or mentally.

After your breathing becomes regular turn your thoughts to contemplation on the resurrection. How can you resurrect your own life to arise in the goodness and kindness of our Lord? Action begins with attitude and thought, so adopt a good mood, contemplate caring thoughts, and ideas for their subsequent action will come to mind.

Finish your contemplation with a sincere wish for joy in the world beginning at home, spreading to relatives, community and the far stretches of the universe.

Take a deep breath in, slowly release it, open your eyes and stretch out. Carry the peaceful feeling from your meditation into your day.

Come, dear Lord
Your love impart
That I may share
Your spiritual heart.


Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

33. Gentle Meditation Practice


Being alone in a secluded spot outdoors in a park or at the beach or another place in nature is one of the great gentle experiences I enjoy. Natureís sounds and sights are in harmony with each other. I see and feel all quietly going on outdoors as a model of how to best harmonize my inner life.

Gently falling snow especially speaks to me, saying - keep your thoughts pure and crystalline as each snowflake, and all in life will fall into its natural resolve. Gentle experiences in nature help maintain calm in life.

A gentle meditation

Find a quiet place to sit as if you are creating your own gentle garden within. Once you close your eyes, take some time to imagine yourself anywhere you choose that makes you feel calm and gentle.

Holding your vision begin even and regular breathing in a pattern such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Do not hold your breath at any time, rather, smoothly let the ending of your in-breath flow into your exhalation, and without a break begin another in-breath. The flow of our breathing is rhythmic when we are feeling relaxed and this is the pattern to emulate in this meditation.

Continue your rhythmic breathing throughout your meditation without actually saying the counts. Let the gentleness soothe your body and watch it bring your thoughts and feelings into harmony with your stilled body.

Now watch your gentle scene in nature that you created when you closed your eyes. Notice that quiet and gentleness give you a mental break from problems or thoughts needing resolve. When sitting quietly like this you may notice ideas come to mind to resolve dilemmas or difficulties. Visualize these ideas so that after your meditation you can put them into action.

To finish your meditation slowly breathe in and out and open your eyes. Take up your journal and write any new ideas or inspirations for later review and action.

Stretch out and go on with your day in a gentle way with whatever you do.

Reflective, meditative quiet time
Brings gentle thoughts to conscious mind.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

34. Pope Benedict XVI - Infancy Narratives of Jesus - Book Review


The full title of this book is Jesus of Nazareth - The Infancy Narratives by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. Recently I have had the honor of delving into this much awaited book that I ordered for myself from Amazon.com - as soon as I saw it advertised I wanted to read it.
<i>Jesus of Nazareth Ė Infancy Narratives</i> by Pope Benedict XVI
Before beginning the book I had completely read the New Testament several times, making it my Lenten study for a number of years. But I really hadnít thoroughly studied the Old Testament.

Pope Benedict XVIís analysis all through the text gave me a greater understanding of how events before the birth of Christ were preparing and leading up to the moment of Jesusí birth and mission on earth for us for all time.

Chapter I gets right to the heart of Jesus coming to earth with the question titled "Where Are You From? (John 19:9). Pope Benedict XVI goes into specific detail to answer this question and likewise all through the book by using biblical sources from the Old Testament and New Testament.

In Chapter II - The Annunciation of the Birth of John the Baptist and the Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus, I learned the most about the genealogical background of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth from reading and studying this chapter. It brought together in my mind how events of Jesusí birth were predicted in Old Testament text.

Chapter III - The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem expounds on the nativity story in Lukeís Gospel in the New Testament - history, theology, and presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Pope Benedict XVI begins by pointing out that for the first time in history there is a common form of communication in the world - the Roman language, and therefore diverse peoples can talk with one another. Pope Benedict XVI points out that the word ecumenical (with horizontal accents over the 2nd and 3rd letter e) is used in the text to describe this expanded government and Roman empire.

Chapter IV - The Wise Men from the East and the Flight into Egypt describes the historical setting and geographical location. The chapter traces back the lineage of King David as being born in Bethlehem, which Pope Benedict XVI considers to have a theological significance. Then there are the questions of who The Magi were, the significance of The Star, about Jerusalem - Stopping Point On The Journey, and two more subtitles - The Worship Of The Wise Men Before Jesus, and Flight Into Egypt And Return To The Land Of Israel.

The Epilogue called The Twelve-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple shows us that Jesus took his role of Son of God seriously, even though his mission was to open a new avenue for us to feel close to our Heavenly Father. To me it is poignant to hear the words of Jesus to his parents after they had been looking for him "I am in the very place where I belong - with the Father, in his house."

I like that Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to delve into the early childhood of Jesus and help us better understand his role as both human and Divine, and how Jesus, too, at this age understood his role.

I recommend this book to sincere followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

Take a page for your daily meditation and reflect on its inner messages. Relish and learn.

Details - hardcover 144 pages; Image Publisher (November 21, 2012); ISBN-10: 0385346409 ISBN-13: 978-0385346405

Review by Susan Helene Kramer


Jesus of Nazareth - Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI is available at this link at Amazon.com

 

35. St. Patrick's Day Devotion and Meditation


St. Patrickís Day is celebrated on March seventeenth each year. St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, died on March 17, AD 461.

This is a meditation on channeling emotional into devotional feelings:

Sit in a private spot, such as in your meditation room or on a garden bench if weather permits. Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Begin a gentle even breathing pattern such as one count to breathe in; one count to breathe out; one count to breathe in; one count to breathe out, and continue this even and regular rhythm. In the photo, notice how peacefully the duck floats on the pond - this is a model for meditation.

Breath is the tie between body and mind. Breathing evenly calms the emotions, body, and mind - bringing them into a harmonious unit. When you have established an even pattern and feel relaxed give the following some thought:

Take time to think about what the word combination emotion - devotion means. Decide on a way to channel your emotions into spiritual devotion in your daily life. Caring put into action is one way to give that beautiful emotion an expansive outlet.

Now, turn your attention back to your even breathing for a minute. After your meditation, you may want to take time to write down your ideas in a journal for later review. I find journaling helpful so that I donít lose my creative thoughts.

Finish your meditation by taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling. Open your eyes and stretch out and go on with your day. Enjoy St. Patrickís Day with your favorite traditions.

Devotion Verse

The love of God
Unites us all
Together as one.
We are one now
Have always been one.
Will ever be one
In the love of God.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

36. Grief Relief Prayer and Meditation


Grief Relief Prayer

Holy Lord
God above
Bless us in our hour of need
Hold us in your Sacred Heart
Ever close, dear Lord, to Thee.
photo credit Susan Kramer, outdoor setting for meditation
When our grief
Seems just too much
Show us by your guiding light
How to find again once more
The purpose of this mighty strife.

Shelter us
When in our gloom
Let us rest within your love
Find strength, find hope, find peace again
With you forever, Lord above.

These hours
Seeming darkest now
Will shine in new born freedom
On those who turn to face the Light -
Feeling Godís love gives us the reason.


The trials of grief grip our lives in body, mind, emotion, soul, till spent along their natural course, and we once more rest within our Source.

For comfort while in griefís grip a quiet meditation practice can gradually ease the pain and lead to longer periods of harmony.

Meditation

Begin by choosing a private place where you will not be interrupted. This could be your bedroom, a secluded spot in your garden, on a bench in the park, or along a stretch of beach.

Sit upright, hands folded in your lap or palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply in and slowly release your breath.

Now begin a pattern of even and regular breaths, such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation.

Pay attention to your breathing as if you are observing someone. This gives you a space to remove yourself from the grief you are holding in body, mind, emotion.

Try to maintain this observation for at least five minutes to give your system time to re-synchronize in a harmonious pattern.

Take time to think with appreciation on at least one positive aspect of your life, send loving thoughts out to your family, friends, the universe.

Finish your meditation with a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes. Enjoy the calm you are feeling for as long as you can. Stretch out and go on with your day taking this peace with you.

Prayer, meditation, and meditation garden by Susan Helene Kramer

 

37. Easter Sunrise Prayer and Meditation


Easter Sunrise Prayer

Hearts reflecting glory
Looking to the morning sun
Reminding us the Lord of all
Is risen
Loving everyone.
Risen above, shining bright
Protecting us with radiant light
Pointing out the path of love
Now teaching us
From heaven above.
Teaching us with shining love.


To prepare for your Easter sunrise meditation choose a place outdoors if weather permits, such as in the garden - indoors is okay, too.

Sit in your usual meditation pose - on a cushion if that is possible with your legs folded in, or on a straight-back chair with the soles of your feet firmly planted on the floor. Fold your hands in your lap.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it, then begin even regular breathing such a 2 counts to breathe in and 2 counts to breathe out.

When you are feeling steady say an Easter prayer such as the one included here or another of your choice. This will be the theme for your meditation.

Close your eyes and take a minute to give thanks for all you have in your life, and any special requests that come to mind, especially for guidance in your path of soul realization.

Easter is a time to reflect that the Lord gave us guidance to use in a practical way to improve ourselves, and to grow beyond self-serving goals so we will do good for others, too.

Now, quietly start following your regular breathing in and out. This calms the unit of your mind, body and emotions and allows higher thoughts to come into your waking consciousness.

Say a closing prayer of appreciation, take a deep breath in and out, open your eyes and stretch out. Continue your day with a greater awareness of Spirit. After all, spirituality must be practical to be useful.


Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

 

 

38. A Meditation to Calm Upset

Meditation can help smooth out the balance between body, mind and emotions. This is particularly useful when suffering an upset.

When events turn us upside down emotionally it affects the way we feel in our body and our thoughts. For example, I have found that after a person that is close to me becomes seriously ill or passes on that I donít feel like eating very much at all for a solid week. I feel the emotional upset in my gut to gut-wrenching events.

To relieve symptoms and feel more back to normal a walking meditation helps. Master Sivananda of Rishikesh was also a medical doctor. He taught that walking circulates hormones in our blood that make us feel better, and when feeling emotionally out of sorts brisk walking helps restore our normal balance.

Walking meditation to calm emotional upset

Begin by choosing a pathway that you are familiar with and that you feel safe walking alone.
Some ideas include a public track on the off hours at a school, or walking around the block if you are in a city. For walking alone I do not recommend walking through a forested area or park.

Dress for the weather. Carry along a backpack with a small water bottle and nutritious snack if youíll be out for an hour or more. Donít forget an umbrella is weather is threatening. Layer your clothes rather than wear one bulky coat. Remember sunscreen protection and a shade hat.

Now that youíve picked your route and gathered together your minimum equipment take a deep breath in and out. If you practice yoga do a sun salutation to warm up your muscles. Otherwise, stretch forward and up and with arms outstretched to side rotate your body to the right and left and back to front, and stretch your arms upward as your look up.

Begin walking. Coordinate your breathing and stepping out, such as take 2 steps while breathing in and 2 steps while breathing out. Also, swing your arms in opposition - that means when your right leg steps forward swing your left arms forward, and when your left leg is forward, your right arm is to the front. By the time you get your steps, arms, and breathing coordinated you probably will forget why you were upset. That is the point.

Taking your attention away from the object of upset and putting it into physical activity helps bring your body, mind, emotional systems back into harmony.

While walking, concentrate on keeping your breathing coordinated with your steps, making this an effective meditation on the breath. Remember that meditation is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Use meditation in the form that suits you at the moment to restore order and harmony in your life.

 

Meditation Article by Susan Helene Kramer

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Copyright 2012―2013 Susan Helene Kramer

Photo at top of page is author at Meditation Mount, Ojai, California

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